The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a new national aviation policy to address safety issues in the industry.
The approval is coming on the heels of accusations made by the Ministry of Aviation that private jet owners in the country continue to abuse the guidelines, with the issue coming to a head following the grounding of the jet belonging to Rivers State Government.
The Aviation ministry grounded the Rivers jet, claiming that it was not really owned by Rivers State and had violated aviation rules, claims the state government denied.
Briefing state house correspondents on the policy, the Minister for Aviation, Stella Oduah said that the policy will also give priority to technology at the airports as well as general aviation laws and regulations.
She noted that the policy will ensure that jets operations are properly monitored, as private jets will operate as private jets and commercial jets as commercial jets. The jets will also now be charged accordingly.
Speaking on taking advantage of the availability of private jets in the country, Ms Oduah said, “The question is not of taking advantages, it is a question of doing the right thing.”
“Are they paying what they are supposed to pay? The response is no they are not, but we want to make sure that they do pay what they are supposed to pay. These are part of what the policy is addressing.
“We want to make sure that private jets are private jets and commercial jets are commercial jets and each will operate within the boxes they are meant to operate so we don’t want to overcharge anyone, we don’t want to undercharge we want to do what is global standards,” she said.
The Minister lamented that there was currently no law regulating the operations of private jets.
“When we talk about general aviation we are talking about the private jets. As of today we have about a hundred of them and having them we have no law, no policy no regulation to make sure that they are operating the way they should operate within ICAO laws and our aviation policy,” she said.
She also spoke on commercial flight operations; saying, “The policy has to take into cognisance the fact that you must have healthy operators. It is only when you healthy operators that safety can be given the regards that it should be given.”
“In doing that, you have to create a new directorate that focuses on economic and commercial regulations. For us it is very important. Again when an airline is unhealthy they will have difficulty in compliance as far as the safety regulations are concerned, but the policy has to address those issues,” she said.
Ms Oduah said the policy also highlighted the bilateral relations in the country’s aviation sector which have so far not added any benefits. The policy also addresses the process of accomplishing the establishment of a national carrier in tandem with the president’s promise of a private sector driven national carrier as well as the general security and safety of the airports and its facilities.
The policy also considers the operations of the Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) as well as a national climate policy.
”AIB should not just investigate accidents and incidents, they should ensure that the outcome of their report is fully implemented. So AIB will police NCAA to ensure that all the outcome of their investigation is adequately addressed,” she said.